Thursday, February 3, 2011

When we all were stoked for... The Time Machine?

Another weekend, another three days with nothing worth seeing at the multiplex. Who amongst us is truly psyched to see The Roommate or Sanctum? And who will be lining up at midnight for the first chance to see such winners as Justin Beiber: Never Say Never Again, Gnomeo and Juliet, or The Eagle? Sure, the Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston rom-com Just Go With It will make the usual $40 million opening weekend required by law for broad Sandler farces, but is anyone genuinely anticipating it? Sure, the first two months of the year are occasionally a bit devoid of genuinely exciting releases, but the sheer drought of major studio pictures brings to mind the great dust bowl of 2002.

2002 started off with the very definition of a whimper. Heck, two of the more interesting pictures of the first two months were 9/11 casualties of late-2001. Collateral Damage (which was actually pretty good) and Big Trouble (an okay adaptation of a terrific Dave Barry novel) were both delayed due to their respective story elements that screamed 'too soon!' after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Black Hawk Down (a 2001 release) started the year off with a genuine bang, and as such it topped the box office for three weeks. The first 2002 release to top the box office was the above-noted Arnold Schwarzenegger action picture. But for the whole month of February, it was an awfully dry spell for those not wanting to watch Cuba Gooding Jr. talking to dogs (Snow Dogs), Denzel Washington overacting to save his son from a corrupt health care system (wow, John Q sure changed a lot of minds) or Mel Gibson fighting a Green Berets-kind of Vietnam war in We Were Soldiers.

So for those who wanted something 'big', we were left watching that damn-silly trailer for Dreamworks' The Time Machine. Because, first of all, it played in front of every movie you might have seen for the first two months of 2002. Second of all, it was the closest thing to a real event movie since Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring three months earlier. We knew the film wouldn't be very good, and we were right. But it was a genuine mirage in a sea of cinematic disinterest. 2002 got better pretty quickly, with solid spring releases like Ice Age, Blade II, Panic Room, Frailty, and Changing Lanes. But for those first two months, it was all about The Time Machine. So if the stunningly generic-looking I Am Number Four explodes in two weeks, you'll know why. To paraphrase my favorite Aaron Sorkin quote, sometimes people are so thirsty for water that they'll drink the sand.

Scott Mendelson

1 comment:

Thomas E. Reed said...

Did the studios somehow predict that the northeast would be snowed in, and thus couldn't go to movies, and therefore they didn't bother making anything for this winter? If so, how could their predictive capabilities work so well on weather, and not on films like Tron Legacy and Beverly Hills Chihuahua?


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